CEO of Jamie's Italian confirmed for headline keynote at Casual Dining
Jon Knight, the new CEO of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, is the first big name Keynote speaker to be announced for Casual Dining 2018. The multi-award winning trade event for the UK's restaurant and pub operators returns to the Business Design Centre in London, next year, on 21-22 February.
Today's announcement follows the opening of the show's online visitor registration for 2018, and comes just weeks after Knight's appointment as CEO. He was formerly the managing director of Jamie Oliver's international restaurant portfolio.
Knight is the latest exclusive speaker signing for the show, which - since its launch in 2014 - has become known for attracting some of the biggest names in the business (many, notably, who rarely appear at other events). Industry leaders, such as Pizza Hut's UK CEO Jens Hofma, GBK's COO Keith Bird, Geronimo Inns and Hippo Inns' co-founder Rupert Clevely, Hard Rock International's area VP of operations David Pellow, wagamama's (then CEO) David Campbell, and TGI Friday's CEO Karen Forrester, are just a few of Casual Dining's speaker alumni to date.
With 18 free business Keynotes planned for 2018, event organiser Diversified Communications UK will be unveiling more high-profile speakers over the coming weeks. As in previous years, its Keynote Theatre (sponsored by Yumpingo) will host a mix of exclusive seminars, interviews, research updates, and panel discussions.
Of course, at Casual Dining, the 'big names' aren't just reserved for the keynote stage. The central exhibition, covering three floors of the BDC, boasts over 200 companies - including global food and drink brands like Coca-Cola European Partners, Schweppes, Heineken UK, Nestle Professional, Lamb Weston, H.J Heinz, McCain Foodservice, Budweiser Budvar, and Carlsberg. While the visitors themselves represent all the leading pub, bar and restaurant operators across the UK - from the national high street multiples to the regional independents.
"Casual Dining is the best food and drinks exhibition in the industry. It seems to be getting bigger and better every year," says Glenn Evans, head of food development at Las Iguanas and La Tasca.
It's a sentiment echoed by many of Casual Dining's repeat visitors. Mitchells & Butlers, ASK Italian, JD Wetherspoon, Bourne Leisure, wagamama, Carluccio's, Oakman Inns, Compass Group, Fuller's, GBK, Enterprise Inns, Hard Rock Cafe, Jamie's Italian, Marston's, Living Ventures, Nando's, Pizza Hut, Punch Taverns, Sodexo, Whiting & Hammond, TGI Friday's, Greene King, The Restaurant Group, Casual Dining Group (formerly Tragus), Whitbread, Yo! Sushi, and Zizzi, among others, also attended the launch edition. They've been making an annual date with the show ever since.
"I regularly visit Casual Dining, and each year it offers more in every aspect. It's unmissable for new products, innovations and new ideas," says Armend Aljo, procurement manager at Oakman Inns & Restaurants.
"We don't have to fly across the Atlantic to find the latest industry innovations under one roof any more - Casual Dining has brought all that and more to the UK," says Karen Forrester, CEO of TGI Friday's UK.
Free trade registration now open The UK's only dedicated trade event for casual dining operators returns to the Business Design Centre in London next year, on 21-22 February. Over 5,000 attendees are expected.